Episode 258

“Hey,” Nick whispered as he walked out onto the deck, feeling the cool night breeze against his face. Angela had been outside for a while and he decided that maybe it was time to check in on her. Angela was sitting on one of the steps as she looked back at him “Mind having a little company?”

“Sure,” Angela shrugged, scooting over to the side of the step to give Nick some more room to sit next to her.

“How are you?” he questioned after taking a seat next to her. He placed his hand on her knee gently as she gave him a small glance before looking back up at the night sky before her. The lights were shining brightly and most everything was quiet. “You’ve been out here for a while.”

“I’ve just been thinking,” she informed him with a small sigh. She had been out here thinking about Kevin and how they had been fighting. Sure, they had their tiny fits back in the day, but nothing like this. Kevin never acted so hurt and angry by something she did. “About Kevin and this wedding.”

“What are you thinking about with Kevin? I don’t really understand what went on,” Nick stated with a small frown, wrapping his arm around her shoulders supportively.

“I just don’t understand why he is so angry with me right now,” Angela began, taking in a deep breath as she thought about the recent things that Kevin had been said to her on the phone. “It’s just kind of upsetting you know. The two of us have always been so close and now he just blew up at me.”

“I imagine it would be,” he agreed with her as he looked up at the star filled sky that she was staring at. He couldn’t remember if he felt pain like she was having right now, but he wished her pain would just disappear. It was almost unfair for Angela to be feeling down, she was too good for that.

“You know, I can remember this one time we were sitting out here together,” Angela let out a small laugh as she thought back to when her and Kevin would just sit back and relax with each other. “Almost every night when it was like this, we would come out and just talk. Kevin was big on the whole star thing, he really liked them. I’m probably boring you with this conversation…”

“No, I want to hear this,” Nick assured her with a small smirk, “Go ahead, I want you to finish.”

“Well, I remember specifically one of the times we had recently gone through some hard times,” she began, feeling her throat grow dry as past memories ran through her mind. Memories that shouldn’t be running through her mind right now. “Anyways, we were talking and I remember him saying to me that no matter what he would always be here to protect me. He would always be here to stand up for me and be here for me.”

“And he has been here for you for a long time,” Nick pointed out with a small sigh, “I’m sure that he is still going to be here for you Angela, he probably has just been having a bad week.”

“He never acted like that towards me Nick,” she informed him with a small shake of her head as she spoke, “Kevin made me promises a long time ago and…”

“Maybe you made a promise to him that got him upset,” he suggested with a small shrug seeing her shake her head slowly. “You know--I really don’t like the thought of this Angela. You and Kevin have been best friends forever and I don’t want to break that apart. My being here is setting something off between the two of you and if you are having second thoughts about this wedding…”

“No, I want to go through with this wedding Nick,” she insisted after cutting him off in the middle of his sentence. “I want nothing more than to be with you. I don’t want you to even suggest not going through with this wedding.”

“But Kevin,” he muttered as she placed her index finger over his lips gently before he could talk any more.

“I don’t care about Kevin and I don’t care if he doesn’t want to be here for me,” she stated with a small nod, knowing that inside she did care. Kevin was her best friend in the whole world, how was she not going to care? She just wasn’t going to let Kevin ruin this perfect moment, she couldn’t let that happen. “I want to go through with this wedding, whether he likes it or not. I want to be with you Nick.”

“Are you sure?” he questioned, wanting to make sure that she wasn’t making a mistake. He saw her nod slowly as he pulled her into a small embrace.

“I’m sure,” she repeated her earlier answer, resting her head against his broad chest as his hand ran of the small of her back gently. “I just don’t understand about Kevin…”

“It’s going to be okay,” he promised hearing her begin to cry again as her tears began to soak through his shirt. “It’s all going to be okay, I promise.”

Nick let out a small breath as he thought of everything that was going on. He wanted to marry Angela and she said she wanted to be with him, but he was worried. Worried about that fact that her and Kevin wouldn’t be able to fix things. He knew that if they never said their apologies, Angela would be upset for a long time. A very long time.


“Kevin, what did she say that has you so upset?” Ria questioned once more, trying to get him to admit what had him so upset. “Kevin, please talk to me.”

“There’s nothing to say,” Kevin muttered, stepping away from her as he rested his back against the wall. “She didn’t say anything to me Ria, it’s what she promised me.”

“What exactly did she promise you Kevin?” she watched him look away from her, not giving her any answer. “Kevin, answer me.”

“She promised me that she wouldn’t make this kind of mistake again Ria,” Kevin informed her, his voice growing more angered as he spoke. “She promised me that she wouldn’t go up and marry someone like this.”

“She loves this Nick guy, doesn’t she?” Ria watched Kevin as a muscle in his jaw tensed. From what she had heard, Angela was in love with someone very much.

“She doesn’t even know this Nick,” Kevin explained with a small frown as he threw his hands up in the air, “This guy doesn’t have a past. He doesn’t have a history Ria and I don’t want Angie hurt again. She’s been hurt so many times and she doesn’t need any more of this. What happens if this guy leaves her or hurts her like all the others?”

“Well, she will need to take care of it by herself,” Ria offered up as he shook his head slowly.

“You don’t get it, Angie is blind,” Kevin pointed out with a small sigh, folding his arms out in front of his chest. “Her first husband was a jerk. She can’t take care of herself Ria because Cary would have hurt her. If I didn’t…”

“I think she is big enough to take care of her own problems Kevin,” she insisted with a small shrug as she watched him closely. He rolled his eyes at her comment before explaining what he meant.

“You don’t get it,” Kevin began, letting out a deep breath as he spoke. “Angie has always been blind when it comes to guys. First Cary and now this guy. There is something I don’t trust about this guy. I can tell when a guy is wrong for her and when she doesn’t even listen to me, she always ends up hurt and I have to get her out of it.”

“Kevin, from what I heard this Nick guy seems pretty decent,” Ria pointed out as he bit down on his bottom lip angrily, “What is it that makes him so wrong.”

“Well, one thing that kind of hurts when she is around him is the fact that I can know nothing,” Kevin informed her with a small scowl as he spoke, “Our relationship means nothing to her when this Nick guy is around. She tells me about her wedding when it’s not even a couple of days away.”

“Are you going?” Ria couldn’t help but question, watching him as he shook his head quickly. “Why aren’t you going?”

“Because I don’t agree with it,” Kevin declared, looking down to the floor. “I can’t let her marry this guy.”

“What is it about Angela that has you so upset?” Ria wondered, looking him over as he looked away from her once more. “I know she is your best friend, but…”

“Let’s just not talk about it,” Kevin blurted out, cutting her off before she could go any further. Right now, he really didn’t feel like talking about Angela. If he did, he was only going to get angrier. “You wouldn’t understand anyways.”


“Grady please,” Avery repeated once again, her own voice shaking with emotion as she watched him closely. She could see that he’d broken out in a sweat. His white shirt was half unbuttoned as he held the gun in his hand. His eyes were opened briefly, but she could see that they’d closed again--that he was somehow stuck in his own little world--in the room by himself where he’d been before she’d arrived.

When she’d seen the photo at Cheryl and Elliot’s place she knew where he’d gone. She’d remembered their talk about summer camp and about the joys that they’d had in this place. It had taken some fancy footwork on the way up, but once Avery had been able to get in contact with the man who ran the camp, he’d told her that it was closed down--that no one would be there since it was ready to be demolished and turned into a hi-rise apartment area. It was then that Avery knew that Grady had to be there. No one else would be there to stop him--to keep him from giving into darkness, but even now as she stood before him nothing prepared her for what was right in front of her.

“Grady listen to me,” she spoke up smoothly seeing he’d made no movement upon hearing her voice. He still had the gun to his head--the barrel planted firmly against his temple. He was squeezing his eyes shut tighter than they’d been when she’d first walked in and spoken to him, but she was convinced he was hearing her. She kept moving cautiously into the room. “You don’t want to do this.”

“You’re not here. This isn’t happening,” Grady shouted out in a low, guttural tone unlike anything Avery had ever heard from him, “This isn’t real.”

“Grady, if you pull that trigger you’ll never know,” she began unable to contain her emotions, “Please put the gun down.”

“No,” he shook his head adamantly, the gun tapping in against his forehead with the movement, “I can’t do that. I can’t stop this.”

“Yes you can. You really can,” Avery continued her whole body shaking as she looked at him. She moved forward cautiously fearing for what might happen if Grady lost control of the gun, “Grady please look at me…”

“You’re not real,” he repeated over and over again, his voice lost in his contemplations.

“No you’re wrong. I am very real. Grady I got your letter. I saw what you sent me and that’s why I’m here,” Avery continued hating to see him in such a state, “I knew that you thought you hurt me--that you were to blame for all of this, but you’re not. This wasn’t your fault.”

“Yes it was. Everything was my fault. All of it down to the last detail,” he argued with her his eyes still locked shut.

“Grady please look at me,” she appealed to him once again, “Grady, I know it feels like everything is going wrong around you, but this isn’t the answer. This is never the answer.”

“It’s the only way to make it stop. The only way to end the pain,” he whimpered his hand now trembling.

Avery eyed the gun intently before taking in a breath. Her heart was hammering out of control, her body prickling with fear as she thought of what it would be like to watch Grady bring himself to his ultimate ending. It sickened her to imagine it and she knew that she had to prevent it from happening some how.

“Grady that won’t make it stop. That will only make it worse,” Avery began her heart sinking to see him in such a state, “None of this was your fault. You’re not responsible for what happened to Jade or to Russ. This was beyond your control--beyond any of our control…”

“But I brought Susan into our lives,” his sad green eyes opened, his words broken by his emotions, “Can’t you see I did this? I brought this on for all of us Avery?”

“No,” Avery shook her head seeing that at least he’d looked at her again. His green eyes were hollow devoid of any and all emotion beyond the despair that had overtaken him, “Grady you had no idea what would happen. None of us did, but if you do this--if you let Susan win, then this won’t be what you want either.”

“I have to do this,” Grady bellowed, tears burning over his face, “Avery, can’t you see that this has gone too far? That it’s beyond the point of no return now?”

“No Grady it’s not. Grady please put the gun down and I promise you that we can work through this. We can find a way to ease the pain together…” she held her hand out in front of him hoping that he’d offer her the gun.

“No Avery. It’s too late. You have to get out of here! I’m not going to change my mind. I have to do this!” he snapped, his voice coming out in a low growl. His fingers were still shaking and Avery felt her breath catch in her throat.

“No, I’m not leaving. I’m not going to let you do this Grady. I won’t lose you too. I know you‘re hurting. I realize you‘re in a bad place right now, but after I read that letter I saw how much you needed me--how much we need each other. I can‘t let you die. Grady don‘t you know how important you are to me? To the world around you? We can‘t lose you. I don‘t want to lose you. I know that you don‘t want to do this and if you‘ll just listen to me, then you‘ll see I‘m right,” Avery insisted firmly, being as stubborn as possible in the hopes that it would get him to hand her the gun. “I won’t let you do it.”

“It’s not your choice. It’s mine. It’s what I have to do!” he roared in response. “It’s the only way to make things right!”

“No Grady it’s not. It’s wrong. It’s completely wrong and I don’t want you to do it. Grady I need you. You can’t leave me too,” Avery begged of him, her tears falling from her eyes, “Please you have to put the gun down.”

“Get out of here Avery!” he cut her off abruptly. “I don’t want you here. I don’t want you to see this.”

“And I don’t want you to die,” Avery moved forward her fears mounting as she extended her fingers out in front of her. “Grady please don’t do this…don’t leave me…”

“Avery I have no choice,” he blurted out his words broken by his emotions. His green eyes fixed on hers again as his lower lip trembled, “You have to go…”

“I’m not leaving you Denton,” Avery insisted firmly her fingers pressing out over his shoulder, “Give me the gun.”

“No Avery, I can’t. I won’t…” he shook his head again causing her to jump back with worry. “You have to go!”

“I don’t have to do a damn thing that you tell me to Grady,” Avery shifted gears snapping back at him, “Or have you not figured that out already?”

“Avery I told you…” he spat out, his words vibrating through the small room.

“I know what you said, but when the hell have I listened to you? You know damned well that when I set my mind out to do something I can be a stubborn bitch. I can be as miserable as they come and if you really think that you’re going to get away with pulling that trigger Denton, then you’re going to have to do it with me right here--right beside you.”

“Avery go,” Grady growled up at her, his vision blurred by tears. “I don’t want you here. I don’t need you to…”

“Tough,” Avery leaned in closer to him, her hand pressing in over his. “Give me the gun Grady.”

“Avery I…” his lower lip trembled feeling her slide her fingers tentatively over his hand reaching out for the gun.

“Give me the gun Grady. Please,” she begged of him feeling his hold on the gun ease up. Before she knew it he dropped the gun into her hand. She caught it with a gasp before taking a step back. She noted that the safety was still on and a sudden rush of relief washed over her. She quickly dropped the ammunition from it, knowing that she wasn’t going to give him a second chance to make a mistake where his life was concerned.

“Avery I’m so sorry…so, so sorry…” he bellowed overcome with his emotions as the tears poured out of him.

“I know Grady,” Avery sighed sliding in onto the bed beside him. She pulled him into her arms for an embrace feeling him fall to pieces in her arms. He was shaking like a leaf as his tears consumed him. “I’m sorry too, but I couldn’t let you do this. I couldn’t lose you.”

“You should’ve let me die,” he whispered lost in his misery.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t do that Grady. I refuse to let that happen,” she mouthed her heart breaking at his despair.

“Avery, I’ve just hurt so many people. It would just be easier if I was gone--if I didn’t have to feel this way,” he bellowed turning his head up to look at her.

“No, it wouldn’t be,” she smoothed her fingers through his dark hair before pulling him into an embrace once again. While she knew that this was far from over, she felt a moment of relief wash over her knowing that she’d arrived before it was too late. Hugging him tighter she felt her own tears overtake her as she held him. “Grady, we need you. I need you.”

“I need you too,” he sobbed losing himself to his emotions as Avery said a silent prayer that fate hadn’t taken another turn for them. She tilted her head up to the ceiling feeling his grief rack over him as she thanked the heavens above that Grady wasn’t stolen from her as well.


Kipp opened the front door finding his father standing on the other side with an oversized wrapped package in his arms. Frowning Kipp folded his arms in front of his chest and eyed his father with heavy agitation.

“Well, aren’t you going to let me in,” Douglas questioned with a small frown eyeing his son expectantly, “I mean isn’t that usually what someone does when family comes over bearing gifts.”

“I don’t know if I want to let you in,” Kipp replied sourly distrust washing over him.

“Well whether you want to see me or not, you can’t deny me the opportunity to see my grandson,” Douglas tried to appeal to him.

“I could, but I won’t,” Kipp decided opening the door a bit further, “But I’m warning you if you do anything to upset this situation more than you already have…”

“I won’t,” Doug promised grateful that his son allowed him access to his home. He followed Kipp inside ready to have a discussion with him about Zoë, but he wasn’t sure if this was the right time. He’d hoped that Kipp would be more open to his visit, but now, well now he wasn’t sure of anything.

“Kipp, is someone here?” Kellen questioned popping into the foyer to see Douglas standing before him. “Oh well, we do have company.”

“Yeah, we do,” Kipp nodded glancing over at Kellen, “My father thought he might drop by to bring Charles a gift.”

“Oh I just love presents,” Kellen mouthed rubbing his hands together. He rushed forward reaching out to take the package from Douglas’s hands, “Here let me help you.”

“Thank you,” Douglas replied sliding out of his jacket before eyeing his son expectantly. “So where is my grandson?”

“Sleeping which is where I think he should stay for a while,” Kipp remarked sourly there motioning for Doug to take a seat, “So if you want to leave I suppose you can…”

“No, I’ll stay,” Doug replied hoping that something would come up to open the floor for conversation between them, “So son how have you been keeping busy?”

“Since when have you cared,” Kipp rolled his eyes at his father. He opened his mouth to say something more when the sound of Charles crying sounded out over the baby monitor.

“Oh look, he must know he’s got grandpa over,” Kellen smiled doing his best to lighten the obvious tension in the air between the two men. “He must be getting the present vibe.”

“Or the vibe that things are going downhill,” Kipp scowled glancing over at Kellen. “I’ll go check on him.”

“Alright,” Kellen watched Kipp walk out of the room. Uneasily he turned to see Douglas looking at him expectantly.

“So you are…” Douglas raised an arched brow eyeing Kellen with intense scrutiny.

“Kellen,” Kellen held his hand out to him, “we met the last time you were here and…”

“Ah yes, the personal trainer,” Douglas rolled his eyes before clearing his throat. His gaze traveled over to Kellen suspiciously and Kellen was suddenly very aware of the pink fuzzy bunny slippers that he’d been wearing. “Tell me something Kellen do personal trainers make their way over to in house visits too often?”

“Oh well you know Kipp and I are…” Kellen realized where Douglas’s eyes had centered in on him and he stepped back beside the couch. Quickly kicking off his slippers Kellen flashed Douglas a small smile, “What about you? What brings you to the neighborhood considering that I’m sure a man like yourself has big important things to be doing on a night like tonight.”

“No not really,” Douglas shrugged watching Kellen circle around the couch to take a seat across from where he was now seated. “After all nothing is more important than family.”

“Isn’t that the truth,” Kellen nodded unable to keep from turning his attention to the hallway again silently praying that Kipp wouldn’t take an eternity to return. With the way that Douglas was watching Kellen found himself uncomfortable for the first time in his life. Usually he was a take charge kind of guy being the life of the party, but with one look over at Douglas, Kellen didn’t think that there would be anything even remotely close to partying going on with that man. It was a tough night with an even tougher crowd.


“Why would you think we were spying on you?” Heather questioned, shrugging her shoulders as she spoke. She gave Chris a quick glance before turning in her chair to look at Cori. “Chris and I were going out for dinner and it was strange that the both of you were here. It’s a small world isn’t it?”

“Actually, no it isn’t,” Cori answered with a small shake of her head as she spoke, “Which is why I want to know how you found out where we were going.”

“Cori, do you really believe that I would take that much out of my day just to find out where Diego was taking you?” Heather let out a small laugh as she shook her head slowly. “Cori, how dull do you think my life is?”

“Obviously dull enough for you to follow us,” Cori pointed out as Chris leaned forward in his chair uncomfortably. “What about you? Are you going to tell me why you are here?”

“Listen, I was just taking Heather out for a nice dinner,” Chris explained with a small sigh. His eyes met Cori’s as he spoke. He was trying to lie the best he could, hoping that it would truly work. “We came here to just relax and have a nice night. Not once did we know that you and Diego would be here. Heather is telling you the truth on that.”

“You know, you’re good,” Cori declared with a small nod as she looked over the man before her. There was a possible chance that Heather and this guy were here coincidently, but that was a very little chance. “But I still don’t believe it.”

“Cori, you need to be less paranoid,” Heather frowned, folding her hands out in front of her on the table. “It seems you are thinking things that truly aren’t taking place.”

“Heather, you’re a bitch and I can see right through you,” Cori stated as she saw Heather’s eyebrows tense after her last comment. “Why don’t you just leave Diego alone before you get hurt.”

“You know, I wasn’t going to be mean, but after that I think I should be,” Heather started, letting out small laugh as she spoke. “You see if I want to talk to Diego, I will. And quite frankly, if Diego was so big on you--where is he right now? And now that I think about it, if he really cared so much about you--he would be here with you right now. If you put all of those things together, I would guess that Diego isn’t really all that interested in you Cori.”

“I’m tired of your games Heather,” Cori let out a small scowl as she spoke, “And soon or a later, they are going to stop.”

“There are no games I am playing,” Heather waved Cori off before turning back in her seat properly, “Now if you will excuse us, we were trying to have nice dinner.”

“Heather,” Chris muttered, watching as Cori left in a huff. “I think you really just pissed her off.”

“What gave you that clue?” Heather questioned with a small smile before shaking her head slowly. “I guess I could say it didn’t go the way I planned tonight, but at least Diego and Cori aren’t together.”

“About that,” Chris began, clearing his throat as he spoke, “I know you think this is a victory and all, but if Diego isn’t with Cori--where is he?”

“That’s a really good point,” Heather pondered for a moment before shrugging her shoulders, “At least he isn’t with her.”


“Sarah,” Diego knocked on Sarah’s door a couple times, realizing that she wasn’t answering him. “Sarah, its Diego.”

“Sorry,” Sarah apologized as she opened the door quickly, almost making Diego fall forward. She motioned him to come in as she let out a small sigh. “I was in the other room, I didn’t think you would be here this fast.”

“Yeah, well I wanted to be here for you,” Diego informed her with a small smile as he watched her shut the door. She took a seat on the couch, patting the couch next to her. “As soon as you called me, I stopped what I was doing just to come and see you.”

“I hope you weren’t doing anything really important,” Sarah frowned as Diego sat down next to her. He shook his head slowly as she leaned back into the couch. “You could have told me no if you wanted to.”

“No, you are what is important right now,” Diego insisted, shrugging his shoulders as he spoke, “Nothing is more important than you right now.”

“Thanks,” Sarah smiled softly before wiping at the corner of her watery eyes, “I really appreciate that right now.”

“It’s no problem,” he assured her, reaching out to rest his hand on her leg gently. “You’re still really upset about this aren’t you?”

“Yeah, I guess you could say that,” Sarah let out a tiny chuckle as she spoke. She wanted to call Kyle and say something to him, but she never got up the nerves to do that. “I’m just upset.”

“You have the full right to be upset Sarah,” Diego assured her, letting out a small breath as he watched her eyes begin to gloss over once more. “If it helps any, I know Kyle still loves you.”

“How do you know that?” Sarah questioned quickly, giving him a quick glance. She shook her head, not even letting him finish his sentence before she went on. “You don’t know it Diego, you are just trying to make me feel better. Kyle doesn’t want me, not now. After what just happened, I don’t think he will ever want me back.”

“I know the kind of guy Kyle is and I really don’t think he wouldn’t take you back,” Diego insisted with a small frown, “All you two have to do is talk. Call him and try to talk to him.”

“I can’t,” she replied, watching as he stood up and reached for something in his pocket. He handed his phone out to her as she eyed it over. “What’s this for?”

“I want you to call Kyle,” Diego stated with a small nod, trying to get her to grab the cell phone, “that’s the only way that you two are going to settle things between each other.”

“No, I can’t do that,” she shook her head slowly as he took a seat next to her and began to dial a number, “Don’t call him Diego. Please don’t call him.”

“Why?” he questioned, realizing the hurt behind her begging. “Sarah, this could settle everything.”

“I couldn’t handle it if I called him and he turned me down,” Sarah whispered, feeling a tear slide down her cheek slowly, “I am already having a hard enough time.”

“Okay,” Diego frowned, reaching out to pull her into an embrace as he ran his hand through her blonde hair slowly. “We don’t have to call him Sarah. Everything is going to be okay.”

“I’m just so scared that things aren’t going to get better,” Sarah felt her tears begin to flow more freely as she rested her head against his chest. “I don’t know what to do anymore Diego, I just don’t know.”


Kyle took a seat on the cool ground as he let out a small sigh. He had driven for a small while to go back to the place that he lived in when he was a child. He looked out at the land before him as memories began flashing through his head. The hill he was on right now, was a very important place to him. There were so many important things about it that he knew meant so much to him. Like, he had his first kiss at this hill. This was the place that Sarah would always want to meet up with him at when they were younger and only friends. Everything seemed to be going all wrong lately and now that he was here, he wished that everything--all the pain would just disappear for a little while. This was the one place that he always felt the most comfortable at when he was younger. Maybe being here would make him feel better--at least that’s what he hoped.

When Kyle was younger, he always wished that Sarah would notice him and he never thought she would. And then, they did get together. All of that just disappeared within a matter of days. All the love he thought she had for him disappeared within a matter of words. There was one moment in time when he was younger that stuck out in his mind like no other.

“I don’t get you Houston,” a teenage Heather declared, taking a seat next to Kyle on the hill top. “Sometimes I think you are so blind?”

“How am I blind?” Kyle questioned, shrugging his shoulders as he looked up at the night sky. He laid back against the cool ground as Heather did the same. “I think one day, me and Sarah are going to be together.”

“You do?” Heather questioned, turning on her side to look at Kyle. He turned on his side to face her as she thought of something to say. “Kyle, I don’t think you realize what is going on with her. Do you know how many boyfriends she has had in the last few months?”

“So,” Kyle shrugged, letting out a small sigh as he thought of something to defend against Sarah, “Maybe she just hasn’t found the right guy.”

“Or maybe she just doesn’t care about true love,” she suggested, eyeing him over as his dark eyes seemed to be filled with confusion. “Kyle, I know you like Sarah, but something tells me that she is going to keep hurting you if you don’t let her go. She knows that you like her and I think she could really use that against you.”

“I’ve just wanted her to like me since I was five,” Kyle pointed out with a small laugh as she nodded slowly, “Now that I am getting older, I realize that it probably is never going to happen.”

“Do you truly love her?” Heather questioned watching as Kyle shrugged his shoulders. “I mean, you could think the person you love is someone, but the real love of your life could be standing right in front of you.”

“Right,” Kyle nodded slowly before letting out a small sigh, “You know--I just think I came to the conclusion that she is never going to love me and I can deal with that.”

“You can?” Heather reached out to touch his fingers gently as Kyle nodded slowly. “If you think all she is going to do is hurt you, then I think you should just let go.”

“Let go,” Kyle muttered, thinking things over to himself before nodding slowly, “Letting go may be the best thing to do. And I should move on with something that does make me happy.”

“I think I should just take Heather’s advice,” Kyle muttered to himself as he ran his hand along the back of his neck lightly. Sure, at one point in time where he thought he was in love with somebody other than Sarah, but more than three fourths of his life he loved Sarah. He couldn’t just let her go like that.

He didn’t want to be hurt anymore, but love sometimes did hurt and he really didn’t realize that until now. He loved Sarah and he wanted her to be happy, but it seemed that everything he had been doing lately was wrong for her.

His mother always said when he was younger that he and Sarah would be cute together, but then again--she also said the same thing about Heather. Now looking at it, his mother wanted him happy, but he didn’t know exactly what that was yet. That was the true thing he was going to have to figure out--what was it he wanted?

“Then again, I might have to think about what Mindy wants,” Kyle shuddered, remembering what she threatened him with earlier. He did want to keep all his body parts and Mindy would probably have a fit if he didn’t at least try and make things right with Sarah. “Mindy was right, I need to take a chance.”

Kyle loved Sarah and sure, she made mistakes in saying some of those things, but he couldn’t just let her go like that. Not that easily.


Ben sluggishly moved down the sidewalk on the street as everything that had been happening lately ran through his mind. Everything had been going perfectly and then all of a sudden, something like this happens and ruins everything.

“Why me?” Ben questioned under his breath as he looked down toward the ground, feeling a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach. He felt someone’s hand on his shoulder as he looked back.

“I don’t know, why you?” Valerie questioned with a small smile as he turned to face her. “How is it going Ben?”

“Not so good,” Ben replied, letting out a deep sigh as he moved out of other’s way. “How are you doing?”

“I’m doing better than you obviously,” Valerie pointed out, reaching out to squeeze Ben’s shoulder gently. “What’s wrong? What has you so glum right now?”

“Can everything be the answer?” Ben shrugged, thinking of all the things that had him upset right now. Mainly Diane and that JT guy. He thought everything had been going fine between him and Diane, how wrong was he? “I really don’t want to talk about it right now Valerie.”

“Are you sure? Talking about it sometimes makes people feel better,” she informed him with a small nod as he shook his head slowly. “Ben, it may help.”

“It won’t help,” Ben snapped, letting out a small sigh before looking up at her with his saddened eyes. “Sorry, it’s just that if I talk about it, I will probably get even more upset.”

“No need to worry,” she assured him, giving his shoulder another small squeeze before shrugging her shoulders, “I don’t want you to be any more upset.”

“Thanks,” Ben muttered, realizing no matter what she said--it couldn’t make him feel worse. He was probably feeling as bad as they came right now. “What about you? What’s going on with you?”

“Well, I would be better if I had Seth back,” she declared as his eyes looked up into hers deeply almost like he was disgusted with what she was saying, “I’ll get him back soon.”

“Seriously Valerie, why the hell can’t you just let him be happy?” Ben angrily questioned, throwing his hands up in the air as he spoke. “What is wrong with people? Why can’t they just let others have something to smile about?”

“Listen Ben, I didn’t mean to upset you,” she began, but she was cut off before she could go any further.

“No you listen Valerie,” Ben snapped, pointing his index finger at her as he spoke, “You should leave Seth alone. Seth has the right to be happy and he is happy with Blake. So, why don’t you just take a clue and let the poor man be happy. We all deserve happiness in this world and obviously you aren’t Seth’s key to happiness.”

“But he is my key,” she blurted out as he shook his head at her disappointedly.

“I don’t care if he is your happiness Valerie. The feeling has to be mutual between two people and what you have with him is nothing. You feel something for him, but he is never going to feel anything for you. Nothing. Plain and simple, so just move on,” Ben suggested before letting out a disgusted sigh. “What is it with you Valerie? Do you want to be like everyone else and ruin someone’s happiness? Let someone be happy for once and just give it up Valerie. Give it up before you can’t take anything back. You don’t want to lose everything and everyone--going on like this, you are going to lose everything and I don’t think that’s what you want. So take my advice and leave Seth alone.”


Don sat down on the bed, switching his phone to his other ear as he waited for his mother to get back on the other line. While he was waiting for Shannon, his mother had called to tell him about something that Matt did at child care. She didn’t even get to tell him yet because she had to tinker with something in the kitchen.

“You still there?” Alicia questioned as Don let out a small sigh. “I was just making dinner.”

“I’m still here, I wouldn’t leave you,” Don promised, letting out a small yawn, “So, what happened with Matt? You never got that far yet.”

“Well, I think we are going to have a problem with his manners,” Alicia informed him with a small sigh as she thought back to what the teacher had told her about Matt, “You see he broke something of another child’s today.”

“Matt? Matt broke another child’s toy?” Don questioned, slightly confused as he sat on the edge of the bed. “What did he break?”

“It wasn’t a toy, it was a John Cena CD,” Alicia informed him, hearing Don let out a small laugh as she told him what it was. “What is so funny about that Don? He grabbed the child’s CD and stepped on it over and over again.”

“I can buy the kid another CD, but what the hell is a child that age listening to something like that?” Don asked before shaking his head slowly. “I can’t say I don’t blame him though.”

“I see where he got it from,” Alicia rolled her eyes before looking at the table, seeing Matt waiting to talk to Don, “He wants to talk to you.”

“Okay,” Don nodded, letting out a small laugh after his mother told him what happened. And here he was thinking something really bad had happened.

“Daddy,” Matt said brightly as he held onto the phone tightly, “I got in trouble today.”

“I heard that,” Don stated with a small frown as he switched the phone to his other ear again. “Why did you do something like that Matt? You can imagine doing something like that, but you shouldn’t do that to someone else’s property Matt.”

“But daddy, John Cena is an ass,” Matt muttered the words as Don heard Alicia yell at Matt in the background. Matt turned to face Alicia before shrugging his shoulders. “That’s what daddy called him.”

“Matt,” Don gasped, realizing that he was going to have to face his mother about this when he got home, “You’re not supposed to repeat what I say.”

“Well, I don’t like him,” Matt replied with a small frown, “You said that he was a stupid mother…”

“Matt,” Don cut Matt off before letting him say it. He knew if Matt said any more bad words, he would have to face his mother’s wrath when he came home. “Don’t ever repeat anything I say. Your grandma is going to kick my butt.”

“That’s going to be funny,” Matt laughed letting out a small laugh as he held the phone to his other ear, “I have to go to bed now, I love you daddy.”

“I love you too,” Don whispered before hanging up the phone and turning to hear the hotel door open behind him. Shannon let out a small smile as she closed the door behind her. “Hey honey.”

“Hey, how was Matt?” Shannon wondered, knowing that it was Matt that he just hung up with after the way he was just talking.

“He got in trouble today,” Don informed her letting out a small sigh as he stood up, “He took someone’s John Cena CD and stomped on it.”

“Go Matt,” Shannon laughed, letting out a small laugh as she shrugged her shoulders. “I can’t say I blame him, I would have done the same thing. Except, I would have torched that CD.”

“You know who John Cena is?” Don questioned in an awkward way as he saw her nod slowly. “I never imagined you to be a wrestling fan.”

“I was a fan before they brought that loser on,” Shannon replied, watching as Don walked into the bathroom and he was still listening to her. “Now I can’t stand to watch the show with the volume on. His voice just annoys me to death.”

“Isn’t that the truth?” Don muttered coming out of the bathroom with an ice bucket in his hand. He pulled the bottle out of the ice before holding up two glasses. “This is a celebration for a job well done.”

“I would love to celebrate with you, but something tells me I shouldn’t be drinking alcohol right now,” Shannon declared letting out a small laugh as he held the bottle out in front of her. “I see, its non-alcoholic champagne. I guess I could do that, but right now…”

“Right now?” Don eyed her slowly as she grabbed the glasses and the bottle from his hands before setting them down on the table. “What do you have on your mind?”

“I think it’s time for us to try this whole making love thing,” she decided, taking a few steps forward as she played with the buttons on his dress shirt. She pulled the buttons apart slowly before sliding the shirt down his muscular arms. “How does that sound?”

“I think it sounds perfect,” Don murmured against her lips as he pressed a small sensual kiss over her full lips. He picked her up in his big arms before placing her in the middle of the bed gently. “I think we both deserve a little time to ourselves after all of this.”


“You’re kidding!” Kellen practically squealed clapping his hands together as Kipp stepped out into the living room with Charles in his arms only to discover Kellen and Douglas both bowled over with laughter, “I mean I knew he was a drama queen, but to that extent. It’s so hard to believe.”

“Trust me Kellen, the bigger the stars they are, the bigger the baby they become,” Douglas laughed wildly leaning back on the sofa to place his hand over his abdomen now that laughter had overtaken him. “It was a real nightmare.”

“I’ll bet, but damn the production turned out great because that film was a chart topper,” Kellen praised Douglas’s masterpiece once more. “I loved it--down to the end credits, which were also very tastefully done if I do say so myself.”

“Well, I can’t take credit for those, but everything else, well I’m glad you enjoyed it. Considering the profits on that film alone I think it’s safe to say others enjoyed it even without having privy to the backstage gossip,” Douglas laughed once more catching Kipp out of the corner of his eye, “Oh son you’re back.”

“Yeah I am,” Kipp glanced between Douglas and Kellen wearily, “and obviously I’m missing something.”

“No not at all,” Kellen waved his hand dismissively, “Your dad was just giving me the scoop on some of the behind the scenes drama on some of the sets he’s worked on.”

“And I was seeing that Kellen is quite the movie aficionado,” Douglas added with an approving smirk, “He knows more about my works than I do it would seem.”

“Not more, but hey what can I say,” Kellen tipped his head to the side before holding his hands up in the air and shrugging his shoulders, “I’m a big fan. I just love Hollywood.”

“Don’t we all,” Douglas beamed proudly thinking about all of his accomplishments, “and you know the next time you’re out there we’re so going to have to get you in on one of the sets. I think you’d do a fantastic job offering up a few pointers to some of the less than skilled action star wannabes…”

“Well I don’t know if I’d go that far, well okay maybe I would,” Kellen waved his hand playfully in front of him, “but still what an honor…”

“And one that would clearly suit you,” Douglas smiled over at him before looking to Kipp, “You should’ve told me that your taste in friends was improving greatly over the years here.”

“Well I…” Kipp started finding himself at a complete loss when Charles started fidgeting in his arms. “Hey, it’s okay…”

“He just knows that the party out here is for him,” Kellen stood up walking over to take a look at Charles. He moved in over beside Kipp glancing down over his shoulders to smile down at Charles, “well hello you beautiful baby boy. How are you after your nap? Are you fussy because you’re hungry? Is that it cutie? Of course it is.”

“He’s always hungry,” Kipp laughed lightly thinking about his son’s hearty appetite.

“I’ll go get him a bottle,” Kellen piped in holding his finger up in Doug’s general direction, “I’ll be right back.”

“I’ll be here,” Douglas nodded with a small laugh. “He’s really something, isn’t he?”

“Yes he is,” Kipp nodded in response a smile lifting over his lips when there was another sound of someone at the front door.

“Were you expecting company?” Douglas questioned with an arched brow.

“Not even when you showed up,” Kipp shook his head a thought occurring to him, “Unless of course Heather’s come back to see Charles.”

“Please don’t tell me that you’ve allowed that harpy into your son’s life again,” Douglas rolled his eyes.

“She happens to be his mother and she hast just as much right to see her son as I do,” Kipp wrinkled his nose at his father. He resituated Charles in his arms ready to answer the front door, “So you be nice or else you’re on your way out.”

“Fine, but it’s your funeral,” Douglas quipped smugly sinking back into the sofa.

“Trust me I know what I’m doing,” Kipp announced reaching out to open the door. He took in a nervous breath not ready to face his father and Heather going ten rounds, but if it came to that he’d send Douglas on his way. However, that wasn’t at all what was going to happen as Kipp looked to the woman before him.

“Hi Kipp, you don’t know me, but I know all about you,” she explained holding her purse in front of her, “My name is Zoë. Zoë Ashford.”

“Oh hell no,” Douglas sprung up from the couch. “No you’re not doing this.”

“Oh yes I am Doug. You can’t stop me any longer,” Zoë stepped forward beyond where Kipp stood catching him off guard. “You’ve lied to Kipp long enough and he deserves the truth. You can’t keep that from him any longer!”


Diego held onto Sarah listening to her tears as his own heart ached for her. Here she was a woman who’d had just about everything she’d ever wanted in her life, yet in one tragic twist of fate the world had caused it to fall all apart. Her life with Kyle had gone from a dream to a nightmare--one that she was seemingly stuck in without any chance of getting out of. He could hear the sadness behind her soft sobs and it caused an ache to fill him deep inside.

“Things will get better Sarah,” he whispered against her soft blonde hair closing his eyes. Her pain vibrated off of her into him as her arms remained around his torso.

“I used to believe that, but now,” she shook her head tilting it upward ever so slightly, “I just don’t know what to believe anymore. It feels like nothing will ever be the same again.”

“They won’t, but they will find a way of working themselves out,” he promised guiding his hand over to her face. He pushed her long, blonde hair from her eyes seeing the pained expression on her face. Oh how he hated to see her hurting. It was too unfair for someone so wonderful to be lost in a whirlwind of confusion and despair after evil had seemingly triumphed. “Kyle will come around.”

“I used to believe that would be true, but after what Susan did to him, Diego, I’m so afraid he’ll never be the same again. You didn’t see the way he was looking at me--the way that his eyes were filled with so much anger and hatred. With the things he was saying,” she shuddered at the memory her tears returning to her, “It was like there was a stranger standing before me. The man I spent so much time in love with is gone and I’m so afraid I won’t ever be able to get him back again.”

“You will,” he promised squeezing her in his arms once more, “You will find a way to have everything work out. Kyle’s upset right now, but he will come around.”

“No, I don’t think he will,” Sarah sniffled facing the reality that had come upon her. “I don’t think things will ever be alright again without Kyle. It’s over for us Diego. There was no denying that when he walked out on me. He doesn’t want to be with me anymore…”

“Yes he does,” Diego tried to alleviate her worries and concerns, but remembering Kyle’s harsh abrasive attitude as of lately, he knew full well that there was a chance that something inside of him would never be the same again. Squeezing Sarah closer to him, he closed his eyes wishing that he could come up with some kind of miracle solution for her and Kyle. At this point it seemed like a moot point now that Kyle was beyond talking to--beyond reasoning with…

“I just feel like I’ve lost the one thing that really made me happy. I feel like the love of my life walked out on me because I’m a horrible, rotten person and…” she sniffled trying to make sense of it all.

“You aren’t any of those things Sarah,” he blurted out curling his finger underneath her chin to lift her gaze to his. “Can’t you see that you’re a beautiful, wonderful woman with a lot of love to give the world around her? You are amazing, incredible and I know that Kyle sees all of that. He loves you very much and…”

“No,” she shook her head once more, “He sees me as a woman who is happy that Susan died--who is beyond thrilled that his son or daughter with Susan is gone. He thinks of me as a monster--as a cold, heartless witch that…”

“You aren’t that Sarah. You’re nothing like that. You’ve never, ever been that way,” Diego interrupted his dark eyes fixed upon hers, “You’re a warm and wonderful woman with a kind heart that’s so full of love. When I saw you with Charles or even with Kyle, I could see who you truly are. You’re nothing like those things you’re trying to convince yourself that you are.”

“Then why is this happening? Why have I lost Kyle?” she questioned painfully overtaken by her tears. She buried her head in his chest hating to feel so completely and utterly helpless now that Kyle had ended things between them.

“Because Kyle is a fool,” Diego finally blurted out after a long silence, “He doesn’t see how special you are and if he isn’t going to fix this, then maybe he never deserved you at all.”

“Maybe I’m the one who never deserved him,” Sarah mouthed inrealization. “Maybe I don’t deserve anyone for my not feeling torn up about Susan being gone. Maybe I was asking for this in being relieved that she was gone…”

“Susan was a horrible, wicked woman. She hurt a great many people and ruined so many lives. You aren’t at all like her and for you to feel relief that she’s gone, well that makes you human,” Diego offered up in consolation, “You can’t hide from your emotions and if you’re relieved it isn’t because you’re trying to take away from Kyle’s grief, but you’re thinking about those that she hurt--those lives she destroyed…”

“Yes, but Kyle doesn’t see it like that. He thinks that I don’t care about him. That I don’t care about anything,” she trailed off remembering the way Kyle looked at her right before he threw her out.

“Sarah listen to me. Kyle’s swept up in a lot of things, but I’m certain he’d never think that way about you. He knows you’re a beautiful woman with an amazing heart. He doesn’t think for a second…” Diego tried to reason with her once again.

“Yes he does. He really truly does and maybe on some level I am,” she repeated lost in a whirlwind of upset.

“No Sarah you aren’t,” Diego touched her cheek firmly, urging her to meet his eyes, “You are the kind of woman that every man dreams about--the kind of woman that anyone would give an eternity to find. You’re beautiful and charming and giving. You’re compassionate and sexy and most of all, when you love, you’re someone who puts the rest of the world above your own needs.”

“And what has it gotten me Diego? I’m anything, but happy right now,” she sighed heavily, “I feel like everything I cared about in this world has just up and left.”

“But that’s not the case. Sarah there are so many people who care about you--people who love you and,” his words tapered off as he saw the sadness burning behind her brown eyes. His gaze lingered to her lips, to the small trembling that had overtaken her now that she spoke of Kyle. Here was a woman in front of him who had risked her own happiness time after time in the name of helping those she loved and for her to be treated so horribly because of it. “Sarah, I’m still here for you.”

“I know and I’d be lost without you,” she replied readily leaning into his touch.

She closed her eyes and before Diego could register what had overtaken him, he leaned forward tasting the saltiness of her tears over her lips as he found himself feeding from the sweetness of her mouth. His lips tasted of hers in gentle exploration, massaging tenderly against her soft, full lips. She sighed against his lips sending tiny simmering sensations over his body as he held her. With another sigh her lips parted opening her up to his. His tongue found hers making sweeping, swirling motions inside her mouth. Her fingers curled in over his shoulder squeezing lightly as his hand eased up and over her spine crushing her closer to him. Finally breathless and lost in the anticipatory promise of desire licking up over his body, Diego tore his lips away from hers.

“Sarah I…” he offered up in a labored breath, his body immediately on edge as she leaned up against him.

“Shh…” she whispered placing her index finger over his lips before tilting her head up towards him issuing another open invitation for him to taste of her again. Needing no further prompting Diego captured her mouth with hungry urgency caving in to the strange sensation that settled in the pit of his stomach. Sure, he knew of a million and one reasons why kissing her was the last thing he should be doing, but as the magic of the moment seemed to sweep over him, he couldn’t help but long to absorb the sensual sweetness of Sarah Marx again and again.


“What am I missing here Kevin?” Ria asked again worried by his general response to the phone call he’d just shared with Angela. It was so atypical for him to just shut down like he’d been doing since he’d hung up the phone, yet there was no mistaking that it had happened. She stepped forward watching him frozen before her. Taking in another small breath she addressed the situation once again, “Kevin what aren’t you telling me here?”

“It’s nothing,” he answered stiffly closing his eyes as he thought about what Angela had told him. He couldn’t believe that she was being so stupid--that she was…

“Kevin talk to me,” Ria snapped her fingers in front of him hoping to capture his attention somehow. She waved her hand in front of his face watching him turn to her, but it didn’t take a genius to see that his thoughts were elsewhere.

“She’s making a mistake plain and simple,” Kevin mouthed somberly balling his fists up at his side in an attempt to keep from losing his head over the thoughts that were consuming him.

“Okay, but she sounded happy. I mean your best friend is getting married, so why can’t you be happy for her?” she couldn’t help but ask knowing only too well that this wasn’t a typical reaction. “I mean if my best friend was getting married, I would be very happy for him or her there. I mean hey with Seth, sure I didn’t like Blake at first, but then knowing how happy she makes him…”

“It’s not the same,” he answered stiffly getting up from where he’d been seated, “You don’t understand Ria.”

“Then make me understand,” she prompted further feeling him place a distance between them, “Make me understand why it is that learning your best friend is getting married is so wrong.”

“She’s just making a mistake--a big one,” Kevin answered flatly, his eyes traveling over to the window across the room.

“In being happy?” she asked shaking her head at him, “Is that so wrong of her?”

“No it’s not. It’s just…” he stopped himself dropping his head down as he struggled with his emotions. “It’s not that she’s getting married, but rather that she shouldn’t be marrying him. She shouldn’t be marrying him.”

“Why not? From the way she sounded on the phone when you were talking to her, she seemed happy. He seemed like someone who must’ve been a man she felt she could spend her life with, so why not…” Ria offered up once again.

“Because it doesn’t work that way. She’s done this before and it was a big mistake. Marrying him would be an even bigger mistake. Sure, she thinks he’s something special, but he’s not. He’s not even remotely close to being special enough for her,” Kevin grumbled under his breath thinking about how he’d like nothing more than to strangle Nick right now.

“If she’s happy and she loves him, then how can you question it?” Ria began again circling around him. She began watching Kevin’s features twist with obvious turmoil.

“Because he’s no good for her,” Kevin mouthed tightly. “He’s completely wrong for her. He doesn’t understand her. He doesn’t know her like…”

“Like what?” she asked arching a curious brow when something registered behind his eyes. “Like what Kevin?”

“He’s just not good enough for her. He’s not the one she should be with,” he blurted out painfully, “He’s not the man she should marry.”

“Then who is Kevin? You?” Ria blurted out catching the expression on his face. There was something behind his dark eyes and in that moment it all became perfectly clear. He hadn’t said a word, Ria had the answer to her question whether she liked it or not.


“I just don’t understand how he can be so cold about this,” Angela sighed heavily leaning into Nick her tears drying after what felt like an eternity of crying. They’d taken to laying on one of the lounge chairs with one another after she’d gotten worked up over Kevin’s surprising response to her good news.

“Ang, if you’re upset then we can…” Nick started once again uneasiness overtaking him at her reaction to Kevin’s disapproval of what was taking place between them.

“No we can’t,” she shook her head adamantly, “Don’t even think it.”

“Angela, all I’m trying to say is if Kevin isn’t happy about this and you’re upset because he doesn’t want to take part in the festivities then maybe we should put a stop to them. Maybe we should just call it quits for right now and put it on hiatus until…”

“No,” she insisted once again, “I want our engagement party. I want our wedding and I want for us to be together.”

“I realize that, but I know how upset you are about Kevin and…” he offered up again hating to see his bride-to-be in such agony.

“Nick, promise me that everything will be okay,” she pleaded with him, “Just promise me that even though Kevin’s giving us grief over this that we won’t let it spoil things for us.”

“I don’t want it to, but I know how much he means to you,” Nick sighed heavily, “I’m not going to pretend that I don’t know this is killing you.”

“Even if it is, it’s Kevin’s choice. I asked him to be there for me--for us on our big day, but if he wants no part in it, then he’s obviously too lost in his own little world to care. If he really loved me like I love him, then he’d be happy for me. He’d be happy for us and he’d stand behind what we’re doing,” she added stubbornly, “If he refuses to be there when I need him, then I guess I really don’t need him like I thought I did.”

“I know you don’t mean that Angela,” he whispered watching the way her eyes flickered between anger and sadness, “I know how important it is for you to have him there.”

“What is important to me is having you there,” she placed her hand over his chest tentatively, “To have you beside me pledging your love to me for eternity.”

“And I’ll be there for that on any given day,” he caressed her shoulder tenderly, his green eyes filled with concern, “even if it means our doing it later than we planned on.”

“No Nick, I want this. I want you and I want for us to be husband and wife,” she added leaning in closer to him. She craned her neck up easing her mouth to his in a soft, subtle sweep. As they parted she whispered against his mouth, her words buzzing against the soft, sensitive dip in his lower lip, “All I need is for you to hold me tonight and make me believe that the rest of the world doesn’t matter. I just want to get lost in you remembering all the reasons why you and I belong together.”

“Don’t you know by now I’d give you anything you asked for,” Nick promised scooping her up in his arms and carrying her back into the house. He kept his gaze upon her thinking of all the dreams he’d had for their life together. Sure this might not be off to a positive start, but he’d make damn sure that their wedding was everything she’d dreamt about and more even if Kevin wouldn’t be there to share it with them.

“I love you Nick,” she whispered as he lowered her onto the bed in her bedroom.

“I love you,” he murmured tipping down to kiss her gently, taking his time to take in every part of her. The faint hint of cinnamon teased over her lips onto his as her nails gently glided over his back. His hand dropped down to her waist squeezing her up towards him gently before their eyes met again. She was beautiful--everything that his dreams were haunting him with and as he slowly peeled open her blouse he found himself wanting to get lost inside of her--surrounded by the magic of what it was they had between them.

“Make love to me Nick,” Angela mouthed arching up to capture his mouth in another hungry display. Her hands tapered off over the steely contours of his firm, smooth back. Everything seemed to be in slow motion for them tonight, yet as their eyes met again she could feel the depth of his love for her shining through the surface. Easing her leg out from underneath him, she teased up against him loving the feel of the hard smoothness and strength of his muscled thighs. He was so beautiful--so everything that a woman could ask for in a man and even if Kevin refused to see it, this was what she wanted--what she needed in her life.

“I love you Angela,” he murmured dropping kisses over all her secret hotspots as she closed her eyes. She gently kneaded and caressed the warm lines of his body, feeling his strength above her. She wanted him, yearned to have forever with him and when she opened her eyes to feel him over her, she felt her breath catch in her throat.

“I love you too,” she whispered seeing a pair of dark eyes before her that were completely foreign to what she knew she was holding onto, yet her mind traveled back to another place--to another time with a man who she’d shoved out of her life forever. She watched the corners of his mouth tip up to reveal a shiny, white smile as they were joined as one. She couldn’t help but close her eyes again. Her mind was playing tricks on her. She was here making love with Nick, not him…not Brant.

“Angela,” he breathed against her neck causing tiny tremors to race over her.

“Nick,” she mouthed reopening her eyes to feel her dream lover leave her to the fantasy that she had well within her reach. She loved Nick. She was sure of it. He was everything she could’ve asked for--everything she could’ve wanted. Brant was nothing…less than nothing in her eyes and though Kevin might’ve had other reasons for saying she was making a mistake, this could only add to his case. The mere fact that she was fantasizing about the man that got away as her fiancé was driving her to new heights of pleasure only proved that she’d lost her mind. She scratched her nails over his beautiful body losing herself to the moment--to the here and now as she willed herself to push the past behind her once and for all. Reaching for him she kissed him again urgently, “I love you Nick. I love you so much.”

“I love you Angela,” he replied readily as they shared a night of passion with one another. To hell with Kevin. To hell with Brant. Angela had her happily ever after right here with her and there was nothing in this world that would ever tear that away from her not even Kevin’s cynicism over the relationship.


“You should’ve let me die Avery,” Grady’s hoarse whisper broke through the silence between them as he kept his head in her lap. His eyes were closed and he could feel her fingers running soothingly through his dark hair. “You shouldn’t have stopped me.”

“Yeah, well that’s another thing you can spend the rest of your life hating me for,” Avery offered with a sad smile, “It’s something that can keep you alive and wanting to make me pay for through the years.”

“Avery, I’m being serious,” Grady opened his eyes to gaze up at her.

“So am I,” she curled her fingers over his cheek, her heart grateful to have this moment with him, “You can be angry at me for years to come because I know that’s something you feel very passionate about.”

“You never listen to anything I say, do you?” he questioned unable to take his green eyes off of her.

“Not since the first moment you opened your mouth to speak to me,” she replied shaking her head at him, “I wasn’t interested in your nonsense then and I certainly wasn’t interested in listening to it now either.”

“You’re impossible,” Grady sighed heavily the weight of everything hanging over his shoulders.

“And you’re reckless, but that doesn’t mean that I still don’t want to keep you around for a little bit longer. I mean who else am I going to make miserable,” she replied with an ironic laugh attempting to lighten the mood as she held him. She felt tears stinging at her eyes as they sat with one another in the midst of the small cabin area holding onto one another.

“You’re not the one who makes me miserable. It’s more the other way around,” he sighed heavily closing his eyes for a long moment, “I’m the one who ruined your life.”

“That’s a pretty big position you’re putting yourself into Grady and I have to be honest with you, honey, you aren’t at all on the top of my list,” she leaned forward, her dark hair sliding over her shoulders to tease over the side of his face. His eyes opened and he gazed up at her, watching her in awe as she smiled up down at him.

“You shouldn’t have come here,” he sighed heavily, the stale odor of liquor on his breath. “You should’ve left me to…”

“To die? No I don’t think so. That’s not what friends do for other friends. If the roles had been reversed I know full well that it would’ve been you busting the door down to save me from myself,” she teased her fingers through his hair once again, “and that’s exactly what I’m doing now. Saving you from yourself Grady.”

“I just don’t understand,” he confessed tilting his head to watch her closely, “After everything that’s happened--after all the hurt I’ve caused you…”

“Nothing could hurt me more than losing you forever,” she whispered, a single tear sliding down her cheek. She felt him reach up to brush it away from her face, his eyes still focused on her.

“I’m sorry,” Grady whispered shifting in her lap. He pulled himself to a seated position before sliding his hand out across her cheekbone, “I’m sorry for the pain that I caused you--that I caused everyone who has ever taken the time to care about me…”

“Grady we take the time because we love you,” Avery reminded him pointedly, “We all love you and we’d be lost without you.”

“I just wish that I hadn’t caused everyone so much pain. That I wouldn’t have lead Jade to Susan. That I wouldn’t have…”

“You didn’t,” she promised him knowing full well how hard this was for him, “Susan did what she did all on her own and none of us can be responsible for that. If we knew maybe it would’ve been different, but there was no way for us to figure it out.”

“I should’ve felt it--should’ve seen through her. I should’ve been able to stop…” Grady shook his head somberly, “I should’ve been able to put it together sooner…”

“Grady, look at me,” Avery curled her finger underneath his chin lifting his eyes to hers, “No one blames you for any of this--not even Kyle. He’s lost inside himself right now, but he loves you too. If you would’ve followed through on this plan of yours, he never would’ve forgiven himself. Just like I never would’ve forgiven myself for losing you…”

“Avery, I just…” he stopped finding himself at a loss. Saying nothing, he brushed his thumb up against the side of her face catching a tear in the process, “I don’t deserve you.”

“You’re right, you don’t, but lucky for you, I have a thing for people in my life who don’t deserve me,” she joked again, an uneasiness in her stomach. “Today is just your lucky day.”

“In more ways than I can even begin to imagine,” he nodded in response reaching out to place his other hand on top of hers, “Avery I’m sorry for the way I treated you all of these years. I’m sorry that I made your life so miserable and said all those horrible things to you in the past…”

“It’s okay. It’s the past…” she tried to get him to focus on the positive instead of the negative.

“I never hated you,” he interrupted his green eyes lost in hers. “I know I said awful things, but never once did I feel that way about you. The truth is that you’re so very special and I know I should’ve told you that sooner.”

“I know how you feel about me Grady,” Avery whispered in response catching the poignant expression that washed over his features, “It was plainly obvious in the letter you wrote me. When you told me that you loved me--that you’d always cared about me, well the truth to the matter is that I’ve always cared about you too. I mean you were the one person in this world who just kept pushing me and pushing me to better myself and not sit back in my frustrations. If you hadn’t have given me that, then I might not be the fighter I am today…”

“That’s just it Avery,” his gaze traveled lazily over her face centering in over her lips, “You were perfect just the way you were all those years ago with your pigtails and take charge attitude. When I teased you it wasn’t because I hated you--wasn’t because I wanted you to hurt, but rather that I wasn’t comfortable with myself when you were around. You challenged everything I believed to be true about the world around me and…”

“And we both learned and grew from each other,” she finished reaching out to touch his face lightly, “No one else understands me like you do. No one else can see what it takes to push my buttons.”

“I do it so very well don’t I,” he offered up with a lazy smile.

“That you do,” she couldn’t help but laugh feeling the tension ease up a bit. “In your usual bullheaded way, but yeah you do.”

“I can’t help it,” Grady mouthed leaning in closer to her, “There’s just something about a pretty girl with a defiant attitude that always gets the juices flowing.”

“Grady,” Avery felt a blush rise in over her features. Her dark eyes looked away from him.

“You always were so beautiful,” he murmured twirling a piece of her long, dark hair between his index finger and thumb. “With your sharp wit and your mouth, you always did know how to stick it to me.”

“Maybe it was just my way of coping with the fact that you seemed to hate me,” she offered up with a small smile, “I guess it was my defense mechanism.”

“Yeah, well I had more than a few of those myself. I guess I was repressed considering that the only girl that managed to irritate me beyond belief was also the only one that I ever really wanted to get closer to,” he whispered inching in towards her. His intensely green colored eyes dropped to her lips. His breath caught in the back of his throat, “She was always so very far out of my reach. So close, yet so…”

“Grady,” Avery questioned catching the strange expression that swept over his face as he eyed her intently.

“So very beautiful,” he murmured closing in over her, his breath skimming over hers in such a way that she felt where his intentions were headed. She found herself frozen in the moment, her heart now racing all over again with another kind of fear altogether. She knew full well what he had on his mind, what she shouldn’t have on hers, but with his lips just a fraction away from a kiss over hers, she couldn’t help but freeze in the moment.

“Avery, I knew that you’d be here with me…that if it wasn’t for you, I would be gone--that I should be gone, but with your being here,” his hands pressed in over the sides of her face, fingers sliding into her dark hair, “You saved me. You saved me from the demons and you brought me to life…you brought me to you…”

“Grady,” Avery finally found the courage to speak his name, feeling his lips brush against hers for the faintest of moments before his body stiffened against hers. Her eyelashes fluttered and in a matter of moments she found herself staring down at a now passed out Grady who’d dropped across the center of the bed. She reached for his arm lifting it only to see it drop once again.

“Thank God,” she mouthed seeing that he was still very much alive, yet also still very unconscious. She sprung up from the bed, placing her hand over her heart as she tried to still her pulse rate. Thinking about what had almost happened had her completely on edge, yet as she looked to Grady seeing him lost in his drunken haze, she knew that things were far from over.

With that thought in mind, she dropped down to pick up the bullets she’d discarded earlier. She collected them along with the gun and made her way outside to get some air. She looked to the gun in her hand and deposited it into the trash can before turning to go back inside the cabin bound and determined to help Grady pull the pieces of his life together again. Regardless of what she thought was almost going to happen between them, she was first and foremost his friend. She had to help him even if it meant riding out this emotion that had overtook him now that he’d gone to hell and back again.


...to be continued...